T-Rav Taught Me My First and Last Lesson in Charleston Classism

Rory Gruler

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We all have our T-Rav stories. Well here is mine...


It was early summer 2007 when I had my first and only interaction with Thomas Ravenel. I was single and meeting some friends at a bar that, at the time, I'd never been to—The Blind Tiger. It was a slow Tuesday night, and a bluegrass band from Asheville was playing. No idea which one—I had been in Charleston for less than a year and hadn't quite learned the names that apparently one is supposed to know if they live in Charleston.


I was about two beers into the evening, when I ran into a coworker who said there was an acquaintance of his at the bar who was successful and single and that I should meet him. He ushered me toward the bar, where I had a semi-forced conversation with a slightly handsome older man who talked to me in a way that felt rehearsed. "I just want to settle down, get married, and start a family," he said. WOW. I knew it was a lie, but when he asked for my number I reluctantly gave it over. It was then—precisely at that moment—that I noticed a mousy girl in a very expensive outfit circling us like a hungry shark.


She was staring at me—at everything about me. Literally. She looked at my shoes, my purse, my nails, my hair. I started to get uncomfortable—and slightly dizzy, really—by the eighth time she circled. She finally walked up to us. He clearly knew Mouse Girl, she appeared to be there with his group of friends (I could tell who they were because their shirts were all a very similar shade of pink.)


And then it happened.


She delicately and effortlessly poured her gin and tonic all over me. She didn't toss her drink at me. No, she simply "spilled" it on me. Starting at my chest, the alcohol slowly made its way down, puddling finally in my Target shoes. She looked me in the eyes and said slowly, "I am SO sorry... I don't know HOW that happened." T-Rav looked mortified. He grabbed napkins from the bar and offered to buy me a drink, but I was soaked in gin and just wanted to get the hell out of there. I pulled the lime and ice out of my blouse and said, "Thanks for your help—it's really no problem."


I started looking for my friends—desperate to leave—when I ran into my coworker again, the one who had introduced us. "Did you guys hit it off? Did you like him?" he asked, not noticing or smelling my booze-soaked clothes. "Well, he got my number... But a girl that he was with poured her drink on me." My coworker looked surprised but not shocked. "You know who he is, right? He's the treasurer."


"The treasurer of what?" I asked.


"South Carolina... the State Treasurer," he responded. "His last name's Ravenel."


"Like the bridge?"


"Like the bridge... He's very old-school Charleston."


Then it hit me. The reason Mouse Girl was so upset by my merely 15-minute conversation with T-Rav was because he was one of "her" kind—not mine. In Mouse Girl's world, who the FUCK did I think I was strolling up to his side at the bar? A stupid girl from Kentucky trying to weasel my way into her way of life, the social circle that she was born into—the "small minority of ruling class" of Charleston (this quote, BTW, comes straight from Southern Charm's official trailer—watch that here). Yes, this was my first—and last, thankfully—lesson in Charleston classism.


While T-Rav had been nothing but nice to me, it occurred to me that we would have never worked out. Not just because he was probably too old for me or that he probably had lots of girlfriends or that I only date democrats. No, it was because he was of that side of Charleston. That side I'd always heard about, but had never witnessed until that night at the BT.


And now, with Bravo's new "reality" show Southern Charm, the world will unfortunately see that side of our city. It ain't pretty, it ain't glamorous, and it sure ain't the Charleston or the Charleston people that I love.


Thomas never called. I'll never know why, but I suspect it was because only a few days after we first met, he was indicted on federal cocaine distribution.



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